KENT COUNTY, MICH. - A teen responsible for a high-speed crash that killed two people, including his younger cousin, was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 9 to between 28 and 60 years in prison.
A Kent County jury last month found 17-year-old Alejandro 'Alex' Torrez guilty of two counts of second-degree murder.
Torrez made a tearful apology in Kent County Circuit Court. “I ask God for forgiveness every night,’’ he told the packed courtroom.
The March 11 crash in Kentwood also killed 21-year-old Tara Oskam, a Calvin College student who was on her way home when her vehicle was struck on the driver's side.
Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan called it a difficult case for all involved.
“Your driving that night is as bad as any I’ve seen,’’ Sullivan said. “Both of the victims here died in an early stage of their life. They won’t have the opportunity to spend any more time in this world.’’
Defense attorney James J. Kiebel said he was disappointed with the length of the sentence.
“There’s two deaths; I think the judge is trying to send a message to the community,’’ Kiebel said outside of court. “Do I think it’s right? Not necessarily. But I do understand where he comes from.’’
The pursuit began after a Michigan State Police trooper clocked Torrez driving 90 mph on U.S. 131 in Wyoming. The trooper pursued the Chrysler 300 after Torrez exited at 54th Street.
Police say Torrez ran four red lights before his eastbound car ran another light at the intersection of 52nd Street and Broadmoor Avenue SE. He collided with Oskam's Honda Accord. She was heading north on Broadmoor and had a green light when her car was struck.
Oskam, who was wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. David Feliciano Torrez, a 15-year-old passenger in his cousin’s car, also died at the scene.
Torrez reached speeds of 115 miles per hour and covered about seven miles before the collision.
Torrez, who was 16 at the time of the crash, rejected a plea deal in July that would have put him in prison for a minimum term of between 15 and 25 years.
Tara Oskam’s mother said she hopes the tragedy – and the lengthy sentence – will dissuade others from the reckless behavior that played out the night of Tara’s death.
“I know at 16 you’re thinking you’re invincible, but there are consequences for your actions and we’ve got to think before we do things,'' Deb Oskam said outside of court. “I’m hoping that the sentence and this trial; others will learn from it.’’
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